The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Lt. August V. Kautz
For more on Kautz, see Rodney Glisan's Journal of Army Life.

Fort Orford O.T.
    May 11th 1855
My Dear Cousin:
    It no doubt would be [a] waste of time in me to attempt to expose that woman's tact, which you possess, it seems, in as great perfection as anyone of your sex, with which you seek to put all the blame on my shoulders because you have not heard from me in so long a time, for you would no doubt with that same tact that I should seek to expose, turn the tables on one from an opposite direction. I will therefore only try to remind you that when you wish to hear from your cousin you have [to] but answer his letters, as he never allows a letter to go unanswered when one is required, and a letter put in the post office with Lieut. A. V. Kautz, 4th Infantry on it, even if you don't know my station, will find me out finally. I assume always that if my letter is not worth answering it is not worth writing, and my unanswered letters are therefore a source of regret to me, because I should have art [sic] so much time in penning them. Your letter seems to make up in warmth and promises what past indifference and neglect you may have been guilty of, and after so long a silence it comes with the greater force, reminding me how kind you might have been, but would not. Your promises seem earnest, and it will afford me much pleasure if you adhere to them and prove a faithful correspondent hereafter. I was in San Francisco when I received your letter. I paid that city a visit of three weeks, which was quite a holiday for me who had been shut up here in this place for eighteen months. I enjoyed myself very much, though I must say I suffered much going and coming from seasickness. I was very sick, and did not get over it for several days after I got to San Francisco & although I have been back five days now, I feel the influence of the ship yet and am quite sick sometimes. You may be sure that I stared when I saw San Francisco or "Frisco" as we call it for short, for it had improved so since I saw it last, and the wonders of the place entertained me all the time I was there. I have seen many cities much larger, but in its peculiar features none like San Francisco. You should see it, to know what it is, for I cannot describe its peculiarities. Its inhabitants are from every clime and you see creatures on the sidewalks sometimes and wonder if they are human beings. The recklessness of everyone, money is spent like kings disburse it, and the ladies dress like princesses. It contains more theaters, churches, gambling saloons and houses of public resort than any city of its size in the world. It is just a fast city, almost too fast, as the crashing of the banks too truly indicates, but nobody seems to be interrupted in their mad career and everything goes on full tilt as before. You may be sure that I came away poorer than I went, at least so far as money is concerned, and I am very moderate, for you know I have not been brought up in an extravagant school. I was therefore rather [more] pleased than otherwise to get back to the quiet and obscurity of Fort Orford and shall probably have the good sense to remain content where I am until the powers that be see fit to send me elsewhere. I have laid in a supply of books, music, colors &c. which will serve to pass the time even if I do not learn anything. The coming summer however I expect to spend in the mountains making a reconnaissance of the country, which duty I shall like very much, as I am fond of field service occasionally, particularly after having rested here so long as I have. I saw Genl. Wool when I was down, to whom I reported the state and condition of my post, and he was so well pleased with my services that he does not contemplate removing me, notwithstanding that the officers of my regiment have been making very strenuous efforts to have me returned to my proper command, which is at present at Fort Vancouver. But the General objects, so I see no prospects of getting away from this post whilst I remain in the country. I do not object, for when I know how long I am to remain in a place, I know what to do to make myself comfortable. At present I am leading a quiet and domestic life. I have comparatively little duty to do; the Indians give me no trouble, and the whites have learned to behave themselves. I have twenty-four men whom I manage to keep in pretty good order. I have pigs, goats & chickens & a nice garden so that my table if not elegantly supplied is at least abundantly provided for. I have a pleasant companion in the post surgeon, and being the only officers at the post of course [we] are obliged to be very sociable. We have no society whatever. There is one young lady in the place, but she is said to be engaged, and of course it would be cruelty to captivate her, or folly for us to fall in love under such circumstances. It is true we have plenty of Indians who undoubtedly belong to the first families of Oregon, but speaking a different language and possessing different customs and manners as they do we find it rather difficult to assimilate ourselves to their society, particularly in the matter of dress, for though a simple blanket forms a very picturesque costume, still it requires some experience to adjust it properly, besides among them the ladies do all the work and it shocks our idea of gallantry to have them carrying immense baskets of fish or potatoes whilst we walked with them carrying nothing. I must close. Remember your promise to write, and give my love to your father and mother and write soon too.
    Your cousin August.
Beinecke Library

Port Orford       
    I share quarters with Dr. [John] Milhau, a surgeon in the army, and who is my only associate. There is but one young lady in the post, who is quite pretty and intelligent. It is a pleasure for us to go and see her occasionally and to take her riding when the weather permits. The wonder is that we don't fall in love. The Dr. says I am and I say he is, but everyone else says she is going to marry Mr. Dart, who keeps a store in the place. We do not often go hunting, for game is scarce, but plenty of fish are to be caught in the bay. The Dr. and I mess together and have a soldier to cook for us. In Jan. our rum bill was $42, but everything is very dear, prices very different from those in the East, beef 25 cts. lb., butter 75 cts., eggs 1.50, potatoes 4 cts.
    When the steamer stops on the way up, we have time to answer our letters by the time she stops on her return, but very often when it is stormy she doesn't put in and then we must wait until her next trip.

June 1855       
    I saw Gen. Wool and reported to him the condition of post. He seems so well pleased with my services that there is no prospect of my being relieved for a long time.
    The surgeon has been ordered to the Rocky Mts. for the summer, and I am entirely alone.
    The mail goes every two weeks.

Mucklechute Prairie, Steilacoom, March 1856       
    In time to join the troops as they moved into the field against the hostile Indians.
    On the 1st of March I was sent out to open the road with fifty men. The Inds. attacked us and we fought all day protecting ourselves on the driftwood on a bar in White River. In the afternoon a reinforcement of 50 Inds. [sic] came to my assistance.and we drove the Inds. before us. One man killed and nine wounded, loss of Inds. unknown. I escaped with a flesh wound in right thigh. The Inds. were discovered yesterday a few miles from this camp. The troops set out to attack them and if they meet it may end the war.
    We have better troops to fight with and betters officers than in the previous fights, and if we can only meet the Inds. we can beat them.

Dec. '56       
    Some of the ringleaders in the Ind. war are arrested for trial but legally they can do nothing to them so that the people who have had friends killed take resort to private and personal revenge. An unnecessary excitement is still kept up, notwithstanding that we have whipped the Inds., and they have not perpetrated a single outrage of any kind for nine months.
    An Ind. was killed in the gov. office who had come in and surrendered himself for trial. The man who is supposed to have killed him had lost a father-in-law during the war and believed he was killing the Ind. who killed him, although he could know nothing about it. Some Inds. come from the north in canoes into our possessions and commit depredations and require to be chastised. A party of them was recently attacked by the U.S. steamer Massachusetts and 2 of [them] were killed and 21 wounded and 80 taken prisoners. Quite an achievement for the navy, as they only lost one man.

Aug. 1858       
    Mr. Campbell, commissioner of N.W. boundary survey, has returned from the East and brings an order with him for all to report for duty.
    I will go to Simiahmoo where the commissioner is encamped where we will remain until next spring when [we] will probably go up the Columbia R. to continue survey in Rocky Mts. I do not want to go, as it will keep me west for several years longer.
    The Inds. are all quiet and peaceable, but over the mts. they are still fighting excessively. Lt. Allan was killed a few days ago.
    Two large commands are in the field, one on each side [of] the Columbia.
August V. Kautz Papers

A. V. Kautz.
    This brings me to the subject of my chronicle of this day--A. V. Kautz having been at one time stationed at Fort Orford and kept all the Indian tribes within his district in complete subjection with only a detachment of twenty men. From Fort Humboldt up to Coos Bay the traveler and the miner could proceed in entire security, such was the prestige of his name over the numerous tribes of Indians in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Born in Germany, he emigrated to the United States with his parents and was living with them in Ohio at the breaking out of the Mexican War. He was then but a boy, and followed one of the Ohio regiments as a drummer. He distinguished himself to that extent that at the close of the Mexican War as a reward for his bravery he was sent to West Point, where he graduated in 1853 as a second lieutenant of the Fourth Infantry. He served in that capacity in Captain Augur's company until December 1855, when by the death of Lieutenant Slaughter, killed by Indians in Washington Territory, he was promoted [to] first lieutenant of Captain Kane's Company (C), of the same regiment. While in Captain Augur's company, he was entrusted with the command of Fort Orford during 1854 and 1855, and when he joined his new company he was assigned to duty as quartermaster and commissary at Steilacoom. Of his efficiency as a subordinate officer, no better proof can be given than the little pamphlet published by him since the war, and known as "The Company Clerk." To inexperienced volunteer officers it has proved a safe guide, to the regular officers a most valuable reference, and the whole service has been greatly benefited by its publication.
"Reminiscences of a Soldier," Sacramento Daily Union, July 13, 1864, page 3

Gen. Kautz--His Oregon Adventures
and Something of His Early Life and Character.

    Gen. Kautz, the distinguished cavalry officer and railroad raider of the Army of the Potomac, was formerly stationed at Port Orford in Oregon. Then he belonged to the Fourth Infantry, and was a sous lieutenant. In the summer of 1855, being inclined to do something more than merely go through the spiritless routine of an obscure post with a lieutenant's command, he spent much of his time in exploring the Coast Mountains in search of a road from Port Orford to the Rogue River and Umpqua countries. Here for weeks at a time, with a few men and some pack animals, he was completely isolated from the outside world, and in such times battles might have [been] lost and won without his being aware of it. On the 8th of October of that year the Indian war broke out in Oregon, on Rogue River, on the east side of the Coast Range. Kautz was in the mountains, west and not far from the troubles, nothing dreaming of the war or his proximity to it. But not so the wily Indians, who, well aware of his whereabouts, waylaid him and his party one day in the woods. The first intimation of the approach of the Indians was a volley of rifle shots, and Kautz found himself on the ground badly stunned. Soon recovering himself he arose, and keeping his little party in the protection of the timber, kept his red foes at bay and made his way to a place of safety without material loss. [Two of his men were killed.] Upon subsequent examination he ascertained that at the first fire when he fell to the ground, that he was struck in the left breast with a minié ball [sic]. At the time in the side pocket of his coat there was a small memorandum book about half an inch thick. The ball struck this somewhat slantingly, and after cutting nearly through it passed off under his arm. I saw the memorandum book soon afterwards, and had an account of the adventure from Kautz. My first acquaintance with him was in the early part of that year, when we two journeyed afoot up the beach from Coos Bay to Umpqua, a distance as the crow flies of 18 miles, but which pedestrians who follow the ceaseless curves of the water line, to avoid the deep sand, reckon at about 25 miles--often Irish miles at that. He is a man of brains, square built, of medium height, heavy set and substantial; somewhat fond of an argument, and when well committed, dogged and obstinate--would "cavil with the devil in a matter of right for the ninth part of a hair." But take him all in all, he is an agreeable companion and a man of sterling worth, as I knew him here. He is generally represented as a Buckeye, but this is a mistake. He came with his father when a child from Germany to Baltimore, where his father settled and followed his trade of carpenter. Subsequently he moved to Ohio and settled in Gen. Hamet's district. Young Kautz went to the Mexican War in Hamet's regiment, as a private, and rose to the rank of sergeant of his company. At the close of the war, Hamet procured his nomination to West Point, where he graduated and was appointed brevet 2nd lieutenant 4th Infantry, July 1st, 1852.
"Letter from Portland," San Francisco Bulletin, August 9, 1864, page 1

Was born in the Grand Duchy of Baden, in Germany, January 5, 1828. Emigrated to America during early childhood, and settled in Georgetown, Brown County, Ohio, in 1834. He was educated at West Point Military Academy, where he graduated in 1852.
    Entered military service as brevet Second Lieutenant Fourth Regiment United States Infantry, July 1, 1852; promoted to full Second Lieutenant, March 24, 1853; to First Lieutenant, December 4, 1855; Captain of the Sixth Regiment United States Cavalry, May 14, 1861; Colonel Second Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, September 2, 1862; Brigadier-General of Volunteers, May 7, 1864, and Major-General by brevet, October 28, 1864.
    Before entering West Point Kautz entered service as a private soldier in the First Regiment Ohio Volunteers in 1846, and took part in the war with Mexico. Immediately after graduating and joining the regular army, he was sent in an expedition against the Indians on Rogue River, where he remained during 1853. In 1855-6 he was engaged in the Indian wars of Oregon and Washington Territories.
    In the war of the Rebellion Kautz served in the campaign on the Peninsula under McClellan; in Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland and Western Virginia. Participated in the battles of Monterey, Mexico, September 21, 1846; Hungry Hill, Oregon, November 21, 1855; White River, Washington Territory, March 1, 1856; Hanover Courthouse, Mechanicsville, Malvern Hill, and succeeding battles of the Peninsular campaign in Virginia; and in many contests in Kentucky and Tennessee.
    Commanded the advance of General Hobson's cavalry at Buffington's Island, in which John Morgan's forces were routed and dispersed, July 19, 1863. Commanded cavalry division in Army of the James in a successful raid on the
Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, May 8 and 9, 1864; against the Danville and Southside Railroad, May 18, 1864. Commanded First Division Twenty-fifth Army Corps, and was among the first of the National troops to enter Richmond after its evacuation by the Rebels, April 3, 1865.
    In October, 1855, Kautz, in command of a detachment of ten men, was reconnoitering on a military road in Southern Oregon, when the party was ambushed and unexpectedly fired on by a large body of Indians, supposed, until that moment, to be entirely friendly to the whites. A bullet struck Kautz (at that time a Lieutenant in the regular army) in the breast and would doubtless have proved instantly fatal but for a small memorandum-book in his pocket, which turned its course and saved the life of the future cavalry leader. He was wounded in the thigh in a battle with the Indians on White River in Washington Territory, March 1, 1856.
    In 1863 General Kautz was made Chief of Cavalry of the Twenty-third Army Corps, and rendered invaluable service in Kentucky and Tennessee.
    While in camp and on the field General Kautz has written several books on military subjects, which exhibit great learning and unremitting industry. A young man, he has displayed in the past first-class abilities; while his true devotion to the country of his adoption, his courage, efficiency and brilliant successes, indicate much promise for the future. At the close of the Rebellion he quit the volunteer service and resumed his place in the regular army.
C. J. Wood, M.D., Reminiscences of the War; Biography and Personal Sketches of All the Commanding Officers of the Union Army, 1880, page 224

Col. Augustus V. Kautz, Eighth Infantry, Succeeds Gen. John Gibbon.

    WASHINGTON, April 20.--Col. Augustus Valentine Kautz, eighth infantry, was today appointed brigadier general in the place of Gen. John Gibbon, who retired at noon today at the age of sixty-four years. General Kautz is at present president of the small arms board, which meets in New York. The new brigadier general has a brilliant record as a fighter, and is a veteran of several wars. He is a German by birth, and was brought to this country by his parents before he was a year old. When a youth he enlisted as a private in the First Regiment, Ohio Volunteers, and served in the Mexican War. Upon his discharge he was appointed to the United States Military Academy, and upon graduation was assigned to the fourth infantry. He was wounded in the Rogue River wars in 1853-5, and again in the Indian war on Puget Sound in 1856. In 1855 he received his first promotion, becoming first lieutenant, and after that his record is brilliant with achievements. General Scott commended him for gallantry in 1857. In 1861 he was appointed captain in the sixth United States cavalry, and in a year was appointed colonel of the second Ohio cavalry as a result of the hard service in the peninsula campaign and in the seven days' fighting before South Mountain. In 1863 he led a cavalry brigade into Kentucky and took part in the capture of Monticello, for which he was brevetted major. He was instrumental in the pursuit and capture of John Morgan, and in May 1864 was made a brigadier general of volunteers and assigned to the command of the cavalry division, Army of the James, so that in 1864 General Kautz held a rank in the volunteer army similar to that conferred upon him today, twenty-eight years later. For entering Petersburg with a small cavalry command he was brevetted lieutenant colonel. He led the advance in the Wilson raid, which cut off Richmond from the south, was brevetted major general of volunteers in October 1864, and marched into Richmond on the succeeding year, commanding a division of colored troops. He maintained his reputation for gallantry and activity, it appears, for he was brevetted colonel in the regular service for gallant and meritorious service at Darbytown Road, Va., and also brigadier and major general for gallant field service in March 1865. After the Civil War, Lieutenant Colonel Kautz, as he was then, entered vigorously into the Mescalero Apache campaign and succeeded in placing them permanently upon their reservation. In June 1874 he was promoted colonel of the eighth infantry, and in 1875 was placed in command of the department of Arizona. When he relinquished the command of the department of Arizona, Colonel Kautz proceeded to Fort Niobrara, in the northwest [of Nebraska], where he remained with his regiment until detailed for temporary special duty in New York. Whether or not General Kautz will be appointed to the command of the department of Dakota, just vacated by General Ruger, is not yet determined. General Kautz is nearly sixty-four years of age, and will retire on that account January 5 next.
The Sun, Baltimore, April 21, 1891, page 1

    FORT SPOKANE, Wash., Sept. 1.--(Special Correspondence.)--The command of this post was mustered on the 31st of August at 7 o'clock in the morning in undress uniform. The weather has been so very warm and the dust on the parade so objectionable that drills have been shortened to one-half hour and full dress coats and helmets will be dispensed with at parade in the future. The mercury was up all the way from 94 to 104 daily, and we feel sure that the enemies of our country will not venture out in this heat to disturb us, so we will rest upon our laurels.
    Brigadier General August V. Kautz, commanding the military department of the Columbia, accompanied by Lieutenant Richardson, of the 8th Infantry, of his staff made a formal inspection of the post and command on his arrival here last Friday. It is not known that this inspection is made with any other view than to acquaint General Kautz with the capacity of the post in a general way, for he has examined most of the posts of this department in similar manner since his recent assumption of command; still many rumors are afloat concerning the intention of sending a part or the whole of the Walla Walla garrison here. There are three empty barracks, an unused cavalry stable, and a large number of officers' quarters also vacant. The trials following the killing of Hunt have been expensive to the community of Walla Walla, and it may be considered best to change the garrison or remove it entirely.
    General Kautz, upon his graduation from the military academy, was in 1852 assigned to the regiment that furnishes the garrison here--Fourth Infantry. In March 24, 1853, he was appointed second lieutenant and participated in the Rogue River expedition against the Indians in 1852. The promotion to first lieutenant followed in December 4, 1855, and he was in action against Indians at White River, W.T. in 1856, being appointed acting quartermaster to the northwestern boundary commission in 1859. In 1861 he left the Fourth Infantry and received his captaincy in the Sixth Cavalry, being brevet major general U.S.A, March 1865. His war record is a glorious one, and he was one of the members of the military commission which tried the assassins of President Lincoln. In January the general will be retired, and his service in the army will have begun and ended at the historic Vancouver barracks.
"Our Military Neighbors," Spokane Daily Chronicle, September 2, 1891, page 1

The Old Pioneer Passes Away in Seattle.
A Prominent Indian Fighter and War Veteran.

    Seattle, Sept. 5.--Gen. A. V. Kautz passed away at the family residence, on James Street, a few minutes past 10 o'clock last evening, after an illness of only twenty-three hours. He died, after suffering intense pain, with a smile on his face, and he retained consciousness until nearly the last instant. The cause of his death was an obstruction of the bowels.
    August Valentine Kautz was born in Ispringen, Baden, Germany, January 5, 1828. With his parents he emigrated to this country, settling in Bowen County, Ohio, in 1832. When the war was declared against Mexico and the muster for troops under Scott, Taylor, Worth and Wool began, Kautz, who was a mere boy, volunteered as a private, June 8, 1846, and went to the front with the First Ohio Infantry. So creditable were the boy's services in the land of the Montezumas that in 1848 he was appointed a cadet at the United States Military Academy, and was graduated with honors in 1852. Assigned to the Fourth Infantry, Grant's regiment, he passed most of his life from the day of his graduation to the outbreak of the Civil War in the territories of Oregon and Washington. Like Grant and Sherman, he won distinction in the Pacific Northwest. He took part in the Rogue River Indian War, in Southern Oregon, in 1853-55, was wounded, and was stationed at Steilacoom during the trouble with Great Britain over San Juan Island. He was again wounded by Indians during the Puget Sound Indian War of 1856. December 4, 1855, he was promoted to be first lieutenant, and was in 1857 commended in a general order by Gen. Winfield Scott, commanding the army, for special acts of bravery.
    He was appointed captain in the Sixth United States Cavalry in 1861, and served with the regiment from its organization through the peninsular campaign of 1862, commanding during the seven days until just before Stony Mountain, when he was appointed colonel of [the] Second Ohio Cavalry. On May 7, 1864, he was made brigadier general of volunteers and assigned to the command of the cavalry division of the army of the James.
    Gen. Kautz was the author of the "Company Clerk," "Customs of Service for Noncommissioned Officers and Soldiers," and "Customs of Service for Officers."
    Gen. Kautz leaves one son, now in the East, and two daughters.
Morning Olympian, Olympia, Washington, September 5, 1895, page 4

Brigadier General A. V. Kautz.

    Brigadier General A. V. Kautz, on the retired list of the United States army, died at Seattle, Wash., Sept. 4.
    Brigadier General August Valentine Kautz was born at Ispringen, Baden, on Jan. 5, 1828, and came to this country with his parents the same year. They went to Brown County, Ohio, in 1832. He served as a private in the First Regiment of Ohio Volunteers in the Mexican War, though hardly more than a lad, and on his discharge was appointed as a cadet in the military academy at West Point, from which he was graduated in 1852. He was assigned to the Fourth Infantry and served in Oregon and Washington until 1859, being wounded in the Rogue River and Puget Sound Indian wars. He was promoted to a first lieutenancy and commended by General Scott for bravery in these wars. In 1859-'60 he traveled in Europe, returning at the outbreak of the Civil War.
    He was appointed captain in the Sixth Cavalry in 1861, and served with the regiment through the peninsular campaign of 1862, commanding it during the seven days' fighting. Just before the battle of South Mountain he was appointed colonel of the Seventh Ohio Cavalry and ordered to Camp Chase, Ohio, which post he commanded until April, 1863. He then led a cavalry brigade into Kentucky as a part of General Carter's division, and took part in the capture of Monticello, for which he received the brevet rank of major. He engaged in the pursuit and capture of the guerrilla Morgan in July, 1863, after which he served as chief of cavalry of the Twenty-Third Corps. On May 7, 1864, he was made brigadier general of volunteers and assigned to the command of the cavalry of the army of the James. He attacked and entered Petersburg with a small force of cavalry in June, 1864, for which he received the brevet rank of the lieutenant colonel. He also led the advance of the Wilson raid, which cut the railroads leading into Richmond from the south for several weeks. He received the brevet rank of colonel in the regular army for his part in the action on the Darbytown road, Virginia, in October, 1864. He was brevetted major general of volunteers in October, 1864, and in March, 1865 was placed in command of a division of colored troops, which marched into Richmond under his lead on April 3. A short time beforehand he had received the brevet ranks of brigadier and major general in the regular army for distinguished services in the field during the war.
    After the war closed General Kautz was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Thirty-Fourth Infantry, and was transferred to the Fifteenth Infantry in 1869, commanding it on the New Mexican frontier until 1874. During this period he led several successful expeditions against the Mescalero Apaches, putting them on their reservation in 1870-71, where they have since remained. In 1874 he was promoted to be colonel of the Eighteenth Infantry, and in 1875 was placed in command of the Department of Arizona. He served in California from 1878 to 1886, and in 1887 in Nebraska. Subsequently he was made president of the Small Arms Board, and met with it in New York City in 1891. On April 20, 1891, he was appointed brigadier general, in place of General Gibbon, and was retired on account of age on Jan. 5, 1892.
Sunday Inter Ocean, Chicago, September 8, 1895, page 3

Last revised November 2, 2016